Black HS Football Players Held at Gunpoint by White Woman While Fundraising

Four Black teenagers who were going door to door in their Arkansas community to raise money for their high school football team said a white woman pulled a gun out on them.

Wynne Police Department Chief Jackie Clark told WMC the incident took place on August 7 at 10 a.m. Officers responded to a report of “suspicious persons,” but, when police arrived, officers said they saw four teenagers lying on the ground with a white woman standing over them with a gun.

Officers arrested Jerri Kelly, 46, on August 15, according to arrest records viewed by The North Star. Kelly was charged with four counts of false imprisonment in the first degree, four counts of aggravated assault, and four counts of endangering the welfare of a minor in the second degree. Her bail was set to $10,000, and she was released on bail later that evening.

“During that time she was at the jail, a bondsman arrived and bonded her out, and they went back home,” Cross County Sheriff David West told WMC.

West told the news station that Kelly is the wife of Cross County Jail Administrator Joe Kelly, one of West’s employees. Cross County Sheriff’s Department Captain Jeff Nichols told TIME that a mugshot of Kelly could not be taken on Monday because she had a “medical emergency” before she was booked. She had to return to the jail to take her mugshot following her initial court appearance on August 15.

“She was afforded the same booking process and procedures as anyone that’s brought into our facility,” Nichols said. “She received no preferential treatment.”

One of the teens, a 16-year-old sophomore from Wynne High School, told WREG they were selling restaurant coupon cards when they knocked on Kelly’s door. Kelly demanded them to get on the ground, spread their legs, and keep their hands behind their backs. Despite two of the teenagers having their football jerseys on, she demanded to know their identity.

In a statement to WREG, Superintendent Carl Easley of Wynne Public Schools said the team sells coupons every year. He also said the district may discontinue its door-to-door fundraising because of the incident.

"We intend to review all methods of fundraising used by school groups in grades K-12 to insure the safety of our children," Easley stated.

In May, a white campground manager pulled a gun out on a Black couple while they were trying to have a picnic. In a viral video posted to Facebook and recorded by Jessica Richardson, a white campground manager from Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) in Starkville, Mississippi can be seen walking around with a gun in her hand.

Richardson, who is Black, explains in the video that the employee pulled out a gun on the couple because they did not have a campsite reservation. She calmly reassured the employee of her lack of knowledge about the reservation and pointed out that brandishing a gun was unnecessary.

“Today was a beautiful day so my husband (who’s a vet), our 2-year-old dog, and myself, decided to Google a lake to visit and have a picnic. We found a lake located in Starkville, MS and decided to visit. Not five mins (sic) later a truck pulls up and a white lady screams at us, she then jumps out of her truck with a gun. And proceeded to point it at the 3 of us, simply because we [didn’t] make reservations,” Richardson previously wrote on Facebook along with the video.

“After leaving my husband stopped by the office and talked with her husband (they’re the property managers). The husband tells my husband that reservations aren’t needed for the lake.”

Kampgrounds of America said in a previous statement that they have reached out to the Richardsons and apologized. The campgrounds also noted that it does not tolerate this kind of behavior.

“We regret any anxiety or doubt that has been raised by this unfortunate event among our millions of faithful camping guests,” the statement read. “We vow to do everything we can to raise awareness among our staff, our franchise owners, and their employees regarding the issues raised by Sunday’s experience.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.